Friday, November 28, 2008

They don't make 'em...

Laptop's at the service centre, due to a malfunctioning keyboard. One fine day (thankfully after we got back from London), certain keys decided simultaneously to go on strike - "k", "\", down arrow, and most irritatingly, ".". You can imagine what these sentences would look like without the fullstop. The others matter less - "k" I've found to be surprisingly redundant. Except for, you know, words like keyboard.

So the Sony service centre guy calls and informs me that the keyboard is indeed fried (though he can't tell me how or why), and that a replacement will cost $120. Gulp. But ok, that I can take. After all, there are 86 moving components. I then gently enquire about the piece of plastic surrounding the keyboard, otherwise known as the palm rest, that Sophie decided to autograph one day - $145. Double gulp. Decision - replace keyboard, live with slightly off-coloured palm rest.

All this attention over a barely-year-and-a-half old computer led me to wonder about the other electronics items I take for granted that might suddenly die on me, and the impact their loss would have on my 'modern lifestyle' (W&G reference there).

Then I realised that my trusty Pioneer cd player is just about celebrating its eleventh anniversary! Sure, it's a little over-enthusiastic in retracting its tray these days, but that apart, the PD-S904 has worked faultlessly since I bought it as a poor but acoustically-fussy undergrad. During this decade of ownership, I have changed its plastic feet with styrofoam replacements, stuffed more styrofoam in the chassis as dampers, and occasionally prised open the optical mechanism to retrieve cds stuffed in by the kids two at a time. All without problems.

In fact, the rest of my audio system is holding out really well. Except for the subwoofer, all the components (from amplifier to speakers to DAC) have lasted eight years or more without showing the slightest wrinkle. And thank goodness for that. I guess some things don't have to change too often, 'mature' technology like audio, for example. So it's a good thing mine don't seem to be dying anytime soon.

Our crt television, on the other hand, is looking decidedly old-school in the face of the newer, slimmer screens, and I'm not sure if I'd be all that sad at its demise...

Friday, November 14, 2008

London 2008, 31 Oct - 9 Nov

Again, there’s too much to detail. Things to remember:

Piccadilly line, Oyster card, Russell Square, Lambs Conduit Street, Saco Apartments 405, Brunswick Square, Waitrose
Conduit Street Coffee House (Sid’s), bacon and eggs, toast no butter, tea, hot chocolate
Battersea Arts Centre 203, canned soups, crackers, Hercule Poirot, Sherlock Holmes, KOKA noodles with egg
St. Anselm & St. Cecilia, Holborn, Red Lion Street, The Dolphin, Boots, The Perseverance, The British Museum
Regent Street, Whittard, Oxford Street, Tie Rack, M&S, souvenir store, Gerrard Street, Golden Dragon dim sum (yum!!), Westminster Abbey, evensong, Abbey shop
St. Pauls, cathedral shop, Bank station, Monument Station, Tower of London, Yo! Sushi, Millennium Bridge, wind, rain, blown-out umbrella, Tate Modern
Knightsbridge, Harrods, Laduree, Café Rouge, Victoria & Albert Museum, Terminal 3

Photos here.

It was very intriguing and quite moving to experience the "motherland" from where Singaporean civic society originated. Things felt strangely familiar despite being also quite different. I’m very impressed considering how the Commonwealth countries now fare compared with many other places previously colonized by other European empires.